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What Is The Best Airstream Alternative?


Polished Airstream parked amongst trees - Airstream alternative

Is There A Good Airstream Alternative?

Airstream has built a very unique brand within the RV industry. They have a look of their own and have kept true to that look since 1939.

Airstream has a loyal following and continues to draw RVers to its brand. Some potential buyers are hesitant about the cost of purchasing an Airstream. Like many niche markets, Airstream has a price point higher than its competition.

Finding direct competition for Airstream is tricky since they are so unique. Although there is no other RV on the market that is apples-to-apples comparable to Airstream, there are some options for people who like the idea of an Airstream but can’t commit to one.

What is so unique about Airstream?

Although they have been refined over the years, Airstreams have kept the aluminum exterior and European-style interiors that are loved by so many. In staying with its roots and separating itself from other manufacturers, Airstream has also resisted the addition of slide-outs.

With RVs offering multiple slides and slides within slides, Airstream has always been a non-slide travel trailer. Not utilizing slide-outs means floor plans must be well-designed to offer customers both living and storage space.

Aluminum exterior

The unmistakable look of a shiny silver Airstream is thanks to its aluminum exterior and rounded shape. Unlike other RVs that use fiberglass or metal sheathing on the exteriors, Airstream uses treated aluminum.

The rounded corners on Airstream’s exteriors give it a more aerodynamic shape and make for better forming of the aluminum around the edges. The aluminum panels are riveted together, adding to the uniqueness of the exteriors. This aluminum shell is not cheap from a material or labor standpoint and is a major factor in the cost.

Modern interiors

Most RV interiors are very similar from brand to brand. In the last few years, RV interiors have become more modern with the use of lighter colors and upgraded appliances.

For any RVs more than a few years old, however, dark brown and faux cherry wood was the norm. With more people RVing full-time, manufacturers have stepped up their interior games. Airstream, on the other hand, has had stylish interiors all along.

The soft colors and sleek design have a more residential feel than that of an RV. European-influenced designs are visible, and an Airstream to many resembles a chic European loft. Top-quality appliances and fixtures add to the look that is unique Airstream.

As with the pricey exterior materials, the interiors of Airstreams are not cheap to build either. Smooth, polished aluminum walls, combined with rich leather and high-end fit and finish, comes at a cost.

Airstream interior
Photo: Airstream

Airstream alternatives

Although you can’t buy an Airstream knock-off, there are some RVs that can work for people who are in the market for something similar.

There are a couple of things that draw people to Airstream, one of which is its vintage look. Take an Airstream from the 60s and a brand-new one and they both have the same vintage look. People love this look, especially when it’s combined with a new, reliable RV.

That being said, there are companies producing new, retro-looking RVs. For those who love the vintage look and want to have an RV that draws a crowd and sparks conversation, these are a great option. Airstream groups are popular, and the sense of community and fun gatherings they have is of interest to many. Vintage trailers and reproductions have a similar community for owners to amuse themselves in.

The high-end interiors that feel different than a regular RV interior are another feature people enjoy. Although most RVers will say they prefer a unit with slide-outs, there are those who like a standard travel trailer with no slides. Since the non-slide units are generally lower-priced models, finding one with a high-end interior isn’t easy. There is another unique brand in the industry, however, that has a similar feeling interior and doesn’t use slides.

As for the shiny silver exterior, Airstream has the market mostly within its grasp. There is another manufacturer using similar materials and techniques to produce a look-alike. Although not cheap, it’s a great Airstream alternative. Let’s have a closer look at these almost Airstream options.

Bowlus Trailers

This is as close to the look of an Airstream as you will find. The familiar aluminum exterior and rounded shape may trick some into thinking this is an Airstream. One easy giveaway for many is the tapered rear of the Bowlus trailers.

bowlus camper at sunset

These high-end travel trailers are actually the first to use the aluminum riveted exterior. Preceding Airstream by a few years, Bowlus trailers have been around since the 1930s! These luxury trailers are an Airstream alternative, but only for those willing to pay the price.

Airstreams are pricey for sure, but Bowlus trailers are even pricier. The top-quality materials both inside and outside, along with the meticulously handcrafted builds add up. Features such as lithium ion batteries, which will run the trailer for weeks without any additional power, including the AC, make up some of the high price tags.

Heated floors, induction cooktops, roof windows, and many more luxury features put these trailers in a league of their own. All materials and building practices are fully sustainable, and each trailer is personally built for the owner.

Oliver Travel Trailers

These fantastic trailers are somewhat like a fiberglass Airstream. The exterior shape is much like the loved shape of the Airstream but constructed with traditional RV materials.

Oliver Travel Trailers have been building superior fiberglass trailers in Hohenwald, Tennessee since 2008. Their double-hulled fiberglass shells are built to last a lifetime. Aluminum frames make these units light and durable.

The interiors have a similar feel to the light-toned, modern, Airstream interior. Quality materials and thoughtful floor plans give these trailers a high-end feel.

Gulf Stream Vintage Cruiser

Gulf Stream is a well-known name in the RV industry and has been producing RVs of all types for years. It’s no surprise that they jumped on the retro trailer trend and produced the Vintage Cruiser line.

Vintage travel trailers are so interesting to RVers and always draw a crowd. While we all love the look and thought of owning a vintage trailer, they can be hard to find and expensive to restore. In the end, you have a cool-looking trailer but with old technology and features.

The Gulf Stream Vintage Cruiser gives you the best of both worlds. The interior and exterior are pure vintage and to the untrained eye can be mistaken for a much older trailer. Constructed using today’s materials and offering the modern features we have come to expect in an RV, retro-looking RVs can be a fun Airstream alternative.

For those who dream of owning an Airstream, it is likely nothing else will do. For those who are willing to deviate from the plan, there are some Airstream alternatives. Regardless of the make or type of RV you purchase, the experiences you will have RVing will be memorable.

Connect with other Airstream enthusiasts

For even more inside scoop on the “silver bullet,” connect online with other Airstream enthusiasts on AirForums.com or check out the latest listings on Airstreamclassifieds.com.

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